Mindset, Oysters, Pearls and A Really Good Book

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“Lindbergh left Long Island in 1927, Thumbed his nose at gravity and climbed into the heavens.
When he returned to earth that night everything had changed,
For the pilot and the planet, everything was rearranged.

We’re a pretty mixed up bunch
Of crazy human beings
It’s written on our rocket ships
And in early cave wall scenes.

How does it happen, How do we know,
Who sits and watches, Who does the show?

Some people love to lead
And some refuse to dance.
Some play it safely, other take a chance.
Still it’s all a mystery
This place we call the world
Where most live as oysters
While some become pearls.”

–     Lyric from “Oysters and Pearls” by Jimmy Buffet

With three days left in Lyric Month, we kick off a full week on Mindset; The New Psychology of Success the 2006 book by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.  If only she’d have written a couple songs…but I digress…

Dr. Dweck describes two mindsets —  “fixed” and “growth.” The fixed mindset manifests itself as the belief that our qualities are carved in stone — fixed, if you will.  The growth mindset, conversely, is based in the belief that our basic qualities are things we cultivate through our efforts and experiences.  In the fixed mindset, potential is already defined.  In the growth mindset, potential is unknown, and (this is important) unknowable.

It’s not that oysters are better than pearls (that’d be like debating whether chickens are better than eggs…), just as the mindset contrast doesn’t suggest that a fixed or growth mindset is better.  They’re just different.

Let’s first consider it through the lens of continuous improvement.

Growth mindset seek out experiences that will stretch them, even if they risk failure in doing so.  It is likely that Lindbergh was a growth mindset guy.

Fixed mindset people seek the comfort of the known, the ordinary, and they can appear to be very risk averse.  There are scenarios where that mindset is very valuable.  Being the first to try a completely new thing — trans-Atlantic flight, for example, or taking on a different go-to-market model not among them.

The next lens involves understanding how we respond.  Sounds like a good topic for tomorrow.

By the way, it’s a book worth buying and reading, if our goal is to make a difference.  Just sayin’…


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